But when is the right time to really say something of this magnitude? I watch my best friend, see her chattering, giggling, completely oblivious to the world. I just want to shake her, let her know that I have something I need to say, and I need her absolute attention to say it.
I want to say what I’m thinking. I want to stop pretending.
But when I feel the words come to my lips, they die. I shake my head, I smile my Stepfordgrin, and I think to myself, Later. Later on today, definitely. But our days are so rushed that we barely have time to say hello, let alone to make startling confessions. By the time we get to her locker, I lose my nerve again. She is talking, completely at ease. She looks at me, but I have run out of words to say. I just shrug.
I start to walk out of the hallway – That was the perfect time, I tell myself. You missed your one chance. Opportunities like that don’t occur every day, and you just missed yours.
I’m not so relieved to see TJ is there. I wanted some time to be by myself. And anyways, he must have already gone to his locker. Why is he still here? Is he waiting for me?
“Hi, Alice” he says softly. I don’t know why he’s so shy. Or so quiet, so un-talkative. It’s. only me. Doesn’t he know I won’t bite?
I prattle off, operating on auto-pilot. I have no idea what I’m talking about. TJ just stands there, nodding at me. I have no idea what I’m saying, but I do know that I’m thinking of something completely different.
TJ looks at his shoes and then at me. And then, we’re both on auto-pilot; we go down stairs, talking vaguely about things that don’t matter (Or rather, I’m talking. TJ’s walking next to me, barely alive). We hug goodbye and I think that, as he leaves, I hear him muttering something under his breath; something that - I have an awkward feeling – he doesn’t want me to hear.
I throw water hastily onto my face and try to breathe normally. I try to undo the knot in my stomach – the one that is accompanied by the sick, crying feeling. I don’t know how to handle it. I tremble and try to hold back the hurt and the need to cry – finding it impossible, and that tears are streaming down my face. My stomach begins to jerk away from the rest of my body. I am losing it. I am becoming more and more unable to hold in my sick tears and sad nausea.
I straighten up and stare into the mirror on the wall in front of me. I stared straight in, furrowing my brow and frowning. All of this just makes things worse. Look at yourself. Failure. That’s what you are. You have no courage. You’re just lucky you can breathe on your own.
I don’t want to look at myself as I start crying. I can feel my face contort – and that’s bad enough. I don’t want anyone else – namely my parents – to see me like this. I don’t want them to ask, I don’t want to explain.
What has happened to me? How have I suddenly gone from a strong, independent girl who relied on no one, who treated everyone with the same cynical, sarcastic manner, to a girl who is sad and cries all the time, who depends on others to help her through her misery, who sets one person apart from all the rest for special treatment?
I bang my head on the wall. My parents hear this and everything gets quiet. “Alice?” my mother calls. “Are you alright?” I mumble something, suddenly terrified that any noise above a grunt will give away my secret. Had my parents not been in the house, I would have broken the mirror into a million pieces and taken care of this pesky heart of mine.
Oh, how I hate my life.
I approach the lockers the next morning with caution. It isn’t often that I see TJ so flustered and angry with emotion. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him angry. I try to reach out to comfort him, but he moves too quickly away.
And that has never happened to me before. I’m not sure if I should be hurt by his rejection or worried about his sudden cold shoulder, but either way, there’s no time for me to deal with it.
And things don’t get better when I see her again. She’s smiling and perfect and happy and everything I’m not. I’ve never felt so jealous of someone in my life, or so intimidated – how is it that she can be so wonderful? I lose all resolve to say anything again, and I resent her for it.
But when she looks at me, I am overwhelmed with this feeling –
This feeling of overwhelming pain and anguish that comes with liking someone who can never return your feelings… the feeling you can’t hold back, so you cry – or almost do, but are too afraid of the reactions of those in the room. You literally feel the pain coursing inside you.
Not only can I not talk now, but I don’t want to, and I don’t see any time in the future when I will. I can’t help my feelings. As I look at her, my rational heart knows that nothing will ever change. She will never feel the way that I feel. My mind draws me into imaginations in which my heart gets what it wants, but I know this can never be true. I can only hope the rest of the day goes normally. The last thing I want is something else to worry about.
But it doesn’t. TJ is rushing past me, and I barely have time to reach out and stop him. He doesn’t give me any time to think before he is screaming at me – “How could you let this happen? Why did you let it happen? Because for awhile, I felt nothing for you, and I was content with the way life was going. Then, you had to treat me like you do, had to be all flirty when you know well that it means nothing. I’m tired of it. Leave me alone,” he snaps. He then sighs, letting out a deep breath he was holding within, and walks quickly in the other direction.
And now I’m jealous of TJ as well. At least he said what he needed to say, at least he has courage. I’m still waiting for mine to come in. I’m still waiting to exhale.
Your face remains unchanged - impassive.
We seem to be communicating telepathically.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s always been that way. You do so much to yourself, yet I remain unchanged.
You cock your head. I cock mine too.
You’re the one who feels broken. You’re the one who hurls the insults. You’re the one who can’t stand the sight of me.
For a moment, I think you’re going to turn away, perhaps for the last time ever, only see glimpses of me.
Then, before I can react, your throw your fist, and I break into a million pieces.
There now, who’s broken?
You say, with a grin I can no longer reflect.
It may be my pieces.
But it’s still your blood on my broken mirror.
Something about the nice way you’re treating me makes me feel even more left out.
I don’t understand why you’re being nice to me.
I don’t understand why I can’t just take the fact that you’re being nice to me and just run with it.
Being around you guys is intoxicating, it makes me smile.
But you don’t know me.
You’ll never know me.
You’ll never want to.
Even now, You give me this look like you accept me. How can you possibly accept me?
And then you treat me…like I’m nice.
You treat me like…you care about me.
I think you’re lying.
But then I look at you.
You’ve looked at me.
You’re watching where my hands are held.
You look away.
There’s a concerned look on your face.
I’m not the only one keeping secrets.
What do I do now?
When you know?
Not until you tell me to stop.
This doormat has a voice and uses it too much. Generally this doormat is greeted by secret and sometimes imaginary eyerolls from the suitcases and the pencils and sometimes even the tie, if it deems the mat worthy enough of its time. But the doormat still never stands up and learns to walk around, nor does it soul-jump to see what it might perhaps be like to be the pencil or the suitcase, nor does it dream what being a tie would be like.
And I don’t know how to carry on the metaphor. All I want to say is that from 5:30-6:25 on Wednesdays nights, I don’t feel like a doormat.
I don’t feel like an outsider.
I don’t feel like an enemy.
I don’t feel weird or anxious or unhappy or hated.
I actually have a nickname.
I actually have friends.
What I say and what I feel actually matters.
And for 55 minutes, I am a very happy person.
For 55 straight minutes, I smile.
For 55 minutes I am living my life, not just for myself but for other people too.
For 55 minutes, I matter to someone, somewhere.
For 55 minutes I am not depressed.
For 55 minutes I do not cry.
For 55 minutes I do not think of the past or worry about the future.
For 55 minutes I do not worry about my homework or projects or my roommate or my laundry or taking a shower. For 55 minutes of my life the only things I have to care about are food and the time. Sometimes one or the other isn’t even a problem.
For 55 minutes I do not feel awkward.
For 55 minutes I do not feel lonely.
For 55 minutes I am not alone.
The other 1, 385 minutes of the day I am pretending to be someone else. Someone happier or someone moodier or someone who isn’t real. But for 55 minutes of the day, I get to be myself. I get to be Erin Elisabeth Byrne. And I am never happier.
Some days, I contemplate throwing myself off the cliff, just so I can stop shouting and stop hearing you shout back. All I want is to make it across, but you obviously don’t want that or you would have helped that happen by now. Sometimes I just want to throw myself off and feel the wind, and sometimes I want to throw myself off because maybe that will finally get a reaction out of you. But no. For some vague, unexplainable reason, I come back out to the cliff every day, look at you from across the chasm, and we nod our heads, and the process starts all over again. It never moves, it never gets closer, and neither one of us ever makes it across. We just keep shouting. I have to wonder when our voices will go hoarse.
I’d also like to point out that the idea that he has to be dark-skinned in order to be ethnically Indian - which they never fucking brought into this movie - is also racist. You don’t have to be black to be African, and being black doesn’t mean that you are African. Expecting a character named Khan to be dark-skinned is no less racist than expecting a character named Ashley to be white. Judging a character’s race or ethnicity based on their colour or name is inherently racist. This is also an alternate reality. Ricardo Maltoban’s Khan still exists, and new-Khan’s backstory is different. They do have something in common: eloquent speech, and frankly I think that’s why Cumberbatch was cast as Khan. Listen to their voices, how compelling and smooth they are. Star Trek takes place in a time after religion, so why are we insisting that it takes place in a time where race-by-colour is still recognized? Suzanne Collins stated that her Hunger Games takes place at a point in time where race is no longer recognized. Why can’t Star Trek be the same?
As far as a lack of women on the Enterprise? Yeah, okay, that bothers me too. But that is not of JJ Abrams’ doing. He did not write the fucking screenplay, nor did he create the original Star Trek crew. Other Star Treks are guilty of the same lack of gender diversity, or am I think only one who watched Enterprise, which only had Hoshi and T’Pol - neither of which, mind you, was quick to break away from some female stereotypes. If you want to bitch at someone, bitch at the person who did the casting and wrote the script. The faults of the movie do not lay solely on Benedict Cumberbatch or JJ Abrams. Some of the fault has to go to Gene Roddenberry, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, April Webster, and Alyssa Weisberg.
Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate what total badasses Nyota Uhura and Carol Marcus are? Uhura could probably command the ship if she wanted to, but she doesn’t fucking want to. She has a passion for languages, so that’s what she did. When she takes control and goes out to speak to the Klingons, neither Spock nor Kirk interferes until they see that she’s in danger because they know she’ll kick their asses if they do. And Carol Marcus? She saved Bones’ life and refused to be taken away from a dangerous situation because she knew she could handle it (and clearly this person didn’t see the movie because it was a torpedo, not a bomb, and Bones doesn’t hit on her while she’s diffusing it but while they’re still safely off-loading the thing and Kirk tells him to knock it off). Carol blows him off and she isn’t prudish about her body. She doesn’t give a fuck about who’s running the Enterprise, she boarded the ship to figure out what her father was up to and when her father doesn’t treat her with respect, she motherfucking slaps him. But it’s a complicated relationship - he’s her father and she loves him, even if he is an asshole. Saying that her relationship to her father is her most important role in the movie is sexist of you; she’s a motherfucking science officer and a really good one, too. Her most important role in the movie is her understanding of the torpedoes. She and Uhura are both strong and independent women. Yeah, the scenes of women in their underwear is fanservice, but so was Taylor Lautner being shirtless 90% of the time during the Twilight movies. JJ Abrams didn’t create fanservice.
Oh, and I’ve seen this movie twice. Horny teenage boys? No, the people in the theaters were college-aged or older men and women. My friends and I are 20 and we were the youngest people in the theater at midnight, and every single person there with us - save one of our friends - is a classic Trek fan. So not appealing to original Star Trek fans? Speak for your fucking self, thanks.